Clark (Baldur's Gate, The Oysters of Locmariaquer) peoples the Vermont town of Boonton generously, as befits the casting of a modern shadow play about morals. There's an ex-minister, long believed dead in an air-crash but actually alive, re-married, and lying low. There's Hannah and Leto Palz, an elderly couple of musical culture heroes whose life-style garners them disciples through a best-selling book they wrote and who have each personally seen some of the worst political violence the age has had to offer (the Nazi death camps, the murder of Trotsky). And there are a few locals of generally upstanding character and poetic imagination, as well as a villainous land developer who in the end successfully plunders Boonton for a ski area. With so large a company to call on, Clark has little trouble in using a grisly double-murder of a hiking couple as the centerpiece for a revue-like presentation of contemporary observations, most of them quite wise. Readers looking for tight plotting, clear lines of action, and a steady focus will have to look elsewhere; Clark, who also writes stories and non-fiction, is never shown to best advantage in the long-fiction form. But, if her lyrical and philosophical leanings make this a less than successful novel, it will reward those readers who most appreciate a sense of place, a meditative mood, and a spirit of moral inquiry.